To intelligently begin the process towards resolving a problem, one must examine it with an open mind and then accurately define it. This is common sense. It is also scientific.
Dr. Chinedu Augustus Akubudike, the medical doctor and a psychologist I introduced you to in Volume 1, knows a lot about how to approach a problem. He spends just about all day, every day helping people solve complex medical-related problems. Speaking in his lyrical Nigerian accent, which is perfect for reciting poetry and stating profound truths, he advises his clients: “Let us talk about problem-solving skills. The first thing you must do to solve a problem is identify what the problem is. Once you have identified the problem, you’ve solved 50 percent of the problem.”
When we realize that we have yet to define the problem of racialized law enforcement, it should be no surprise that we have not solved it.
There is a logical problem-solving model that is so commonplace that it can be found written in plain language in resources like WikiHow.com. The site published the following problem-solving process for using “logic to arrive at a conclusion.” To solve virtually any problem, the site says, “you can use a process of elimination—dividing the issue down until all you have left is the problem. There are four basic steps to this process: 1. Define the problem. 2. Develop a plan. 3. Implement the plan. 4. Evaluate the results. “Until there’s an acceptable answer, you’ll repeat steps 2 through 4 until that answer has been reached.”
If this sounds like basic common sense, you are right. That is what we need—common sense. As the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes often said: “Elementary, my dear Watson.”
As you can see from the model, you cannot move beyond step 1 until you define the problem. This is where we are stuck as a nation. We are a nation of problem solvers that has yet to define and understand the problem we are trying to solve.
When something is defined, it gives our minds something to wrap around. After that is accomplished, we can come together and move to step 2: devise plans to address the problem. As
Martine Rothblatt, the businessman who founded Sirius and United Therapeutics, says: “Anything worthwhile in life requires teamwork, and you cannot manage what you don’t understand.”
The physical clashes, propaganda and systemic abuse of power towards black men, fostered and financed by the government can be accurately defined as war. Once that definition is established, we will be half way towards the solution. Thus, I decided to change the title of my manuscript from Stop the Madness to The War in America.
After I changed the title, I continued my reporting and analyses. I endeavored to discern the root causes and possible solutions to the conflicted relationship between the police and black men. In every instance of police abuse of power that I directly experienced or became aware of, I looked for evidence that would prove or disprove my triangular premise, which was that:
- The Term “The War in America” is Right on Target:
As a standard operating procedure, American law enforcement commits acts of war against black men as if they are enemies. Law enforcement’s war tactics include propaganda, psychological demoralization, unwarranted physical contact, harsh violence, false arrests and imprisonment and stop-and-frisk, which emanates from wars abroad, where the tactic is commonly called the “field interview.” These acts of war, which range from subtle to outlandish, are virtually inescapable. As strange as it sounds, it is nevertheless absolutely true: Every black man in America is a potential target of racialized policing, just by virtue of being a black man in America. Every one of us—just by being alive—is at risk. Thus, wherever the police encounter a black man, that location—whether it is a street, highway, private home or place of business—serves as a micro battle ground, where nerves easily flare out of control and people get hurt. The term “The War in America” distinguishes the law man/black man conflict from metaphorical uses of the term “war.” There is no other war in America—metaphoric or otherwise—that results in violence, bloodshed and death caused by the government. For this reason, it is appropriate that The War in America begins with the article “the” capitalized.
- Law Enforcement Tyranny Exists:
The decades of racially-targeted impositions and police crimes, typically under-investigated and sanctioned by the courts, constitute law enforcement tyranny. This existential oppressive condition vitiates black men’s quality of life and denies them their birthright to be treated as individuals. Law enforcement tyranny affects all black men, either directly or indirectly, regardless of their social standing or behavior. It effects the perfected conditioning of the majority population to instinctively distrust and fear black men, and to equate them all into a neat little stereotype, like stuffing sardines into a can – they all look the same, so they must all be the same.
Law enforcement tyranny is an outgrowth of a few “bad” apples on police forces across the country. These so-called bad apples are attracted by the unchecked power and control that the uniform, badge and gun give them. The government embraces men (who comprise 90 percent of police forces). And government policy protects them at all cost, right or wrong. “
Balko: “Bad cops are the product of bad policy. And policy is ultimately made by politicians. A bad system loaded with bad incentives will unfailingly produce bad cops” … . There are severe consequences “of having cops who are too angry and too eager to kick down doors and who approach their jobs with entirely the wrong mind-set.” Police departments in effect target, train, arm and dispatch tyrants.
- The Tyranny Is Intolerable and Triggers Counter Attacks:
Beset by government’s sponsorship and perpetuation of a micro-mixed war, black men nevertheless attempt to defend themselves, but remain vulnerable to the law enforcement battering. They have an abiding awareness that police can strike at any time out of nowhere for no valid reason, except some excuse, such as mistaken identity—(“You look like a suspect we are looking for”). This disturbing awareness of being constantly watched and harassed, triggers blowback. Some black men strike back against unsuspecting police as “heroic” snipers on well-planned ideological missions or as coldblooded avenging ambushers driven by animus. “From 2006 – 2012, a white police officer killed a black person at least twice a week in this country,” Melissa Harris-Perry, formerly with MSBNC, reported. Conversely, on average, a cop is killed by a black man about every two weeks.
It bears repeating: There is an actual war going on in the United States of America. How do we end it?
That is the question.